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Fine-tuning the flu vaccine for broader protection
Date:8/8/2011

an we realize," noted Harrison, who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "What this tells us is that the human immune system can fine-tune its response to the flu and actually produce, albeit at a low frequency, antibodies that neutralize a whole series of strains."

CH65 mimics many key aspects of sialic acid, hemagglutinin's natural receptor, and binds to portions of hemagglutinin that the virus cannot mutate without reducing its ability to infect human cells. After comparing CH65 with other antibodies produced from the donor's cells, the team was able to deduce how the donor's anti-flu immune response had evolved to produce such broadly reactive antibodies as a consequence of multiple virus exposures over time.

With this knowledge, Harrison believes it may be possible to develop vaccines that actively direct the immune response to provide broad protection against multiple strains of the influenza virus, ideally by targeting the same portions of hemagglutinin as CH65.

"Developing a flu vaccine is currently a hit-or-miss enterprise," according to Harrison. "We vaccinate with a virus or part of a virus and hope that the immune response will evolve in a useful direction.

But for viruses like influenza that mutate rapidly," he continued, "we want to have a response that does a really good job at blocking both the strain of the virus in the vaccine and many related strains as well. These results point out what strategies we might employ to achieve that goal."


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Contact: Children's Hospital Boston
Colleen.Connolly@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Children's Hospital Boston
Source:Eurekalert

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